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Core Commitments

for Children

are the core UNICEF policy and framework for humanitarian action

OVERARCHING COMMITMENTS

Overarching commitments describe the principles expected of UNICEF and its partners in their humanitarian action and advocacy. These are corporate commitments which apply across every sector and programme area.

Benchmarks describe the performance levels expected against the commitments. They set expected standards to be applied across all programming.

Preparedness​

Improve humanitarian response through investing in preparedness with a focus on enabling effective and timely response, reducing costs and reaching the most vulnerable

Commitment

All COs, ROs and HQ meet the Minimum Preparedness Standards (MPS) as per the UNICEF Procedure on Preparedness for Emergency Response and the Guidance Note on Preparedness for Emergency Response in UNICEF

Benchmark

Preparedness consists of the mechanisms and systems put in place in advance to enable an effective and timely humanitarian response to humanitarian crises, based on an analysis of the risks in a particular context, and taking into account national and regional capacities and UNICEF’s comparative advantage.  It is part of risk-informed programming and contributes to linking humanitarian and development programming.

UNICEF builds national and local capacities for preparedness and response, ensures UNICEF offices’ preparedness to respond, including through internal capacity development, and contributes to interagency preparedness[11]. The combination of these elements varies according to context.

The UNICEF Procedure on Preparedness for Emergency Response requires all COs to complete/review at least every 12 months a four-step preparedness planning process using the Emergency Preparedness Platform (EPP) (risk analysis, scenario definition, key elements of UNICEF response, preparedness actions) to prepare to respond to their priority hazards.

The procedure also sets Minimum Preparedness Standards (MPS) for COs, ROs and HQ. These are mandatory standards for every Office, designed to significantly increase UNICEF’s preparedness for humanitarian response. 

Coordination

As a member of the IASC, UNICEF is committed to support humanitarian coordination[12] along with national and local stakeholders (including national and local authorities, CSOs, and communities) and to improve the collective impact of humanitarian response. Whether the cluster approach is activated or not, UNICEF plays a key role in both global and country-level inter-agency coordination for its areas of programmatic responsibility.

Where clusters are not activated, UNICEF is accountable for its respective sectors to support coordination mechanisms. This includes supporting coordination functions, the development of assessment and information management systems and tools, capacity-building and prepositioning of supplies.

Where clusters are activated, as Cluster Lead Agency (CLA) for Nutrition, WASH, Education[13], and Child Protection Area of Responsibility (AoR) within the Protection Cluster, UNICEF is committed to fulfil the six core functions defined by the IASC:

  1. Support service delivery by providing a coordination platform to prevent gaps or duplication's

  2. Inform strategic decision-making by the Humanitarian Coordinator (HC) and the Humanitarian Coordination Team (HCT) for the humanitarian response through coordination of needs assessment, gap analysis and prioritisation

  3. Develop strategies and plans in accordance with standards and funding needs

  4. Advocate to address concerns on behalf of cluster/sector members and the affected population

  5. Monitor and report on the cluster/sector strategy and results, recommending corrective action where necessary

  6. Support contingency planning/preparedness/national capacity-building where needed

In doing so, UNICEF pays specific attention to:

  • Establish, lead and manage effective coordination mechanisms with all relevant partners, and provide adequate human and financial resources for cluster/sector coordination and information management responsibilities

  • Establish standards of quality, predictability, accountability and partnership, in accordance with global norms and standards

  • Provide technical support and guidance to cluster/sector members and promote quality and global humanitarian standards, including on child rights, gender and protection mainstreaming

 
 

Supply and Logistics

 

Seek to establish and maintain humanitarian access, so that all affected populations can safely and consistently reach assistance and services

Commitment

All COs, with the support of ROs/HQ:

  • Establish internal coordination mechanisms which define roles, responsibilities, processes, and tasks related to humanitarian access

  • Identify and equip relevant staff with requisite knowledge, skills, materials, and tools on principled humanitarian action and operating in complex and high threat environments (including civil-military coordination, negotiations for access and humanitarian advocacy)

  • Seek engagement with all parties to conflict, and other stakeholders, as necessary and feasible to earn and maintain access to and for the populations in need

  • Proactively pursue acceptance among communities and stakeholders

  • Engage in coordination mechanisms to establish and maintain principled humanitarian access, in collaboration with UN Agencies, national and local authorities and CSOs, within existing coordination mechanisms such as the Humanitarian Country Team (HCT), the United Nations Country Team (UNCT), the Security Management Team (SMT), and the cluster/sector coordination mechanisms

Benchmark

Support the leadership and coordination of humanitarian response, along with national and local stakeholders, and in compliance with humanitarian principles

Commitment

UNICEF, at CO/RO/HQ level, actively contributes to intersectoral coordination and ensures that sectors/clusters under its leadership are adequately staffed and skilled

See 2.3 Sectoral commitments

Benchmark

Supply and Logistics are an integral component of programme and service delivery. UNICEF commits to ensuring the fast delivery and distribution of appropriate supplies and relief items related to Health, Nutrition, WASH, Education and Protection sectors, and of appropriate essential household items to affected populations. UNICEF teams, including programme, operations, supply and logistics staff, work closely at all stages of the programme cycle, to develop supply and logistics strategies based on needs assessments, preparedness and response plans; and ensure that life-saving supplies and essential household items for children and communities are delivered to affected populations, partners and/or point-of-use in a timely fashion.

See 3.8 Supply and logistics

Humanitarian Access

 

Seek to establish and maintain humanitarian access, so that all affected populations can safely and consistently reach assistance and services

Commitment

All COs, with the support of ROs/HQ:

  • Establish internal coordination mechanisms which define roles, responsibilities, processes, and tasks related to humanitarian access

  • Identify and equip relevant staff with requisite knowledge, skills, materials, and tools on principled humanitarian action and operating in complex and high threat environments (including civil-military coordination, negotiations for access and humanitarian advocacy)

  • Seek engagement with all parties to conflict, and other stakeholders, as necessary and feasible to earn and maintain access to and for the populations in need

  • Proactively pursue acceptance among communities and stakeholders

  • Engage in coordination mechanisms to establish and maintain principled humanitarian access, in collaboration with UN Agencies, national and local authorities and CSOs, within existing coordination mechanisms such as the Humanitarian Country Team (HCT), the United Nations Country Team (UNCT), the Security Management Team (SMT), and the cluster/sector coordination mechanisms

Benchmark

Principled and unimpeded humanitarian access is essential to establish and carry out humanitarian response. In all contexts, conflict-affected or not, UNICEF is committed to ensure that all affected populations can safely and consistently reach assistance and essential services.

UNICEF access to populations and programme implementation is grounded on a deliberate application of humanitarian principles in all decision-making processes and is supported by a continuous effort to earn and maintain acceptance of communities, authorities, and in conflict-affected contexts, of all parties to the conflict. 

See 1.4.1 Humanitarian principles

UNICEF’s Access Framework[14] provides UNICEF and its partners with the guidance and resources to gain and maintain principled humanitarian access to populations in need.  At CO level, Senior Management is responsible for establishing internal coordination mechanisms which define roles, responsibilities, and processes by which UNICEF personnel from Programmes and Operations collaborate to optimise humanitarian access.

In all contexts, UNICEF seeks to ensure its action is perceived by all stakeholders as apolitical, neutral, impartial and independent. This implies a strict distinction from political and military entities, including in UN integrated settings à See Engagement in UN Integrated Mission Settings in 1.4.1 Humanitarian principles, and the  use of armed escorts only after a thorough analysis in the Security Risk Management (SRM) process that determines no other SRM measure is available to bring security risks to acceptable levels, as per the IASC Non-Binding Guidelines on the Use of Armed Escorts for Humanitarian Convoys[15].

Protection from Sexual Exploitation and Abuse (PSEA)[16]

 

Deliver on UNICEF’s commitment to protection from sexual exploitation and abuse

See 1.4.8 PSEA

Commitment

All COs, with the support of ROs/HQ, establish processes to ensure that:  

  • Every child and adult in humanitarian contexts have access to safe, child- and gender-sensitive reporting channel(s) to report SEA

  • Every survivor is promptly referred for assistance in line with their needs and wishes (such as medical care, mental health and psychosocial support, legal assistance, reintegration support), as part of UNICEF’s gender-based violence (GBV) and child protection programmes

  • The prompt, safe and respectful investigation of SEA cases, is consistent with the wishes and best interest of every survivor

Benchmark

UNICEF is committed to ensuring that all children and adults are protected from sexual exploitation and abuse across all of UNICEF programming.  Every UNICEF Office contributes to achieving the above benchmarks by embracing a whole-of office approach, including through: the development of a Country Office Action Plan under the leadership of senior management with active contributions by Human Resources, Ethics, Operations and all Programme sectors; the designation of a PSEA Focal Point within each CO, including field offices; the mandatory completion of PSEA training for all UNICEF personnel and partners; and the active contribution to an inter-agency approach under the leadership of the Humanitarian Coordinator[17].

Accountability to Affected Populations (AAP) [18]

Ensure that affected children and families participate in the decisions that affect their lives, are properly informed and consulted, and have their views acted upon

Commitment

All COs, with the support of ROs/HQ, establish processes to ensure that Affected and at-risk populations, including children and women:

  • Participate in humanitarian planning processes and in decisions that affect their lives

  • Are informed about their rights and entitlements, expected standards of conduct by UNICEF personnel, available services, and how to access them through their preferred language and methods of communication, as per the Sphere standards

  • Have their feedback systematically collected and used to inform programme design and course correction  

See 2.3.1 Needs assessments, planning, monitoring and evaluation

  • Have access to safe and confidential complaint mechanisms

Benchmark

 

UNICEF is committed to putting affected populations, including children, women and the most vulnerable[19] groups, at the centre of its work[20].  UNICEF facilitates the safe, appropriate and equitable engagement of communities by:

  • Promoting the participation of communities in decisions on defining and prioritising interventions and determining the most appropriate delivery mechanisms

  • Providing access to life-saving information, including on affected people's rights and how to exercise them, and appropriate two-way communication channels between aid providers and communities

  • Providing secure means for affected communities to provide feedback and complain about programmes and responses, while regularly collecting, analysing and integrating this information into decision-making processes

Footnotes

[11] Reflected in the country’s Programme Strategy Notes, Programme Document and Programme Management Plan.

[12] United Nations, General Assembly Resolution, ‘Strengthening of the Coordination of Humanitarian Emergency Assistance of the United Nations’, A/RES/46/182.

[13] UNICEF is the Cluster Lead Agency at country-level and the co-lead at the Global Level, through a MoU with Save the Children

[14] See UNICEF Access Framework, 2020 (forthcoming – hyperlink to be added when officially released).

[15] In accordance with the IASC Non-Binding Guidelines on the Use of Armed Escorts for Humanitarian Convoys 

[16] In accordance with the IASC Commitments on Accountability to Affected People and Protection from Sexual exploitation and Abuse, 2017.

[17] IASC Championship Strategy on PSEA and Sexual Harassment (2018); IASC Plan to Accelerate PSEA in Humanitarian Response at Country Level,

endorsed by IASC Principals December 2018.

[18] Ibid.

[19] Vulnerable groups are those most exposed to risk, and particularly susceptible to the effects of environmental, economic, social and political shocks and hazards. Vulnerable groups may include: children, adolescents, women, older people, pregnant adolescents and women, child and female-headed households, people with disabilities, unaccompanied minors, people from marginalized groups and the poorest of the poor, people marginalized by their society due to their ethnicity, age, gender, sexual identity, disability status, class or caste, political affiliations or religion. The typology of vulnerable groups may evolve depending on contexts and risks.

[20] See UNICEF, Accountability to Affected Populations Handbook (draft), 2019.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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